Barcelona will face arch rivals Real Madrid at the Nou Camp on Saturday in a game they dare not lose. The stakes are always high in El Clasico games, but with Madrid currently six points clear in La Liga the pressure is all on Barca.

Barca stuttering

Barcelona only managed to win two out of six games in all competitions during November. They started the month with a 3-1 defeat at Manchester City in the Champions League. While that loss had little impact on the state of the group (Barcelona will go through as group winners), it was especially painful as City are coached by former Barca manager Pep Guardiola.

They have since drawn two games in La Liga. First, Barca flattered to deceive in a 0-0 draw at home to Malaga. On that day, they were able to point to the missing duo of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. There were no such excuses in the next draw at Real Sociedad last weekend. Manager Luis Enrique described it as the worst performance of his tenure.

Things didn’t get any better on Wednesday night as the Catalans were held to a 1-1 draw at third division Hércules in the Copa del Rey. Enrique chose to rest a number of first-team players, but it was hardly ideal preparation for their biggest game of the season to date.

Madrid, on the other hand, are in excellent form. They have won their past six games in La Liga, scoring 20 goals in the process.

They may be trailing Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League group, but Madrid will fancy their chances with a six-point cushion at the Nou Camp.

Messi and Ronaldo finding form

Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the two players most likely to decide the match. Together they dominate the Ballon D’Or award for the world’s best player, winning it for the past eight years.

That trend is almost certain to continue this time round.

Both head into the Clasico in good form. Messi has 19 goals in 16 games so far this season, while Ronaldo has netted eight times in his past four La Liga matches. Ronaldo’s hot streak includes a match-winning hat-trick away at local rivals Atlético Madrid.

But Ronaldo will be without fellow attacking threat Gareth Bale at the Nou Camp.

Bale is often a provider as well as a scorer, so Ronaldo will likely miss his creative presence. Messi meanwhile will take to the pitch as part of the most feared attacking trio in world Football. Manager Enrique will be hoping Messi, Suarez and Neymar click as he knows they can on Saturday.

Enrique’s final season?

There is speculation around Enrique’s future regardless of what happens in the Clasico. Despite leading Barca to successive league titles and a Champions League during his two and a bit seasons in charge, the Spaniard is not adored in the same way as some of his predecessors (especially Guardiola). He won’t be surprised by coming under some pressure following recent disappointing results.

What’s more, Enrique’s contract is set to run out at the end of the season. It is looking increasingly likely that he may leave the club next summer.

In contrast, his counterpart at Madrid is earning more and more plaudits each week. Zinedine Zidane guided Real to Champions League glory last season and has set his sights on reclaiming La Liga for the first time since 2011/12 when a certain Jose Mourinho was at the helm.

Zidane was a wonderful attacking player, but he has received most praise as a manager for shoring Madrid up defensively. Real were far too open under previous manager Rafael Benitez – the watershed moment coming against Barca at the end of 2015 during a crushing 4-0 defeat.